Barnes & Noble Cancels 'Diverse Editions' Classic Literature Covers Following Backlash

Lawrence Kim
February 11, 2020

The Diverse Editions was slated to debut at the chain's Fifth Avenue store Wednesday in NY but its announcement was immediately met with criticism online for what some felt was a tone-deaf approach.

Critics suggested that it would have been more proactive to promote books written by authors from diverse backgrounds.

"We acknowledge the voices who have expressed concern", Barnes and Noble said in a tweeted statement.

Barnes & Noble acknowledged Wednesday that the new covers' were not a substitute for black voices or color writers, whose work and voices deserve to be heard. The booksellers who championed this initiative did so convinced it would help drive engagement with these classic titles. 'What in the Caucasian, ' tweeted Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist, her comment quickly receiving thousands of likes (currently 2.3k).

Readers and authors alike have been critical of the initiative.

Author Adriana Herrera called the books "the classics in blackface, " according to the New York Times.

Prior to the collection's cancellation, Twitter users, including writers, were not pleased with the initial announcement.

The 12 new editions were created after a brainstorming session between chief creative officer Chris Beresford-Hill and chief diversity officer Doug Melville of TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, the agency that served as the third partner in the initiative, according to Fast Company.

The project was originally inspired by another online uproar a few years ago over the decision to cast a black actress as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the J.K. Rowling-sanctioned theatrical play that serves as a sequel to her book franchise.

Considerably bafflingly, the organizers of the Various Version promotion occupy said that they chose the books they did particularly since the texts in quiz by no intention specify the characters 'drag; the notion presumably being that there's no evidence against the premise of a revenge-obsessed whaler in 18th century New England, or a itsy-bitsy lady residing in an greater-class English estate within the 1860s, being an particular person of coloration, so hello, why now not flow with it?

"There are so many ways to do it right, they had to look for a way to do it wrong".

Many writers were not pleased by the results.

'Let's use "Black actors" for the ad Let's sit the "Black ppl" in the front Let's get a "Black influencer" to speak Let's put "Black faces" on the cover Let's do all things to give the "appearance" of diversity to appeal to Black consumers w/o doing the work to be inclusive [sic],' commented activist and author Eunique Jones Gibson.

The largest bookseller in the U.S. has pulled a new series of "culturally diverse" classic book covers after facing widespread criticism. "They didn't do the easy or logical thing".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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